Junior Soca Monarch Sekel Mc Intosh was devastated after learning this year’s competition was cancelled, according to the boy’s father.
Caribbean Prestige Foundation announced on Friday that the National Schools Soca Monarch needed to be restructured and the new format will be released in the second quarter of 2020.
Trevor McIntosh, said his son, Sekel Mc Intosh, had been preparing for months to defend his title.
“He did studio time to make sure his song was good and he ordered a particular costume from the US.
“He exercises two to three hours a day to be fit. After all that, it’s disappointing just a week before the competition to say it’s cancelled.”
Adding to the disappointment are claims that Sekel has not received his $15,000 prize money for the 2019 competition.
“We haven’t received anything as yet, not even a word. It’s obviously not about the money at his age because he doesn’t know the value of $15,000."
“It about the value of working hard to the end,” McIntosh said.
Education Minister Anthony Garcia said on Saturday the decision to cancel the event was unfortunate given the competition’s ability to help introduce students to culture. Garcia said the ministry is now looking to develop an alternative to the competition and will make an announcement on Monday. Supervising this process is the ministry’s curriculum department and chief education officer.
“It’s the responsibility of all and in particular the ministry to ensure that we cater adequately for cultural offerings that can showcase opportunities for our children to learn,” said Garcia.
Garcia said he was not aware that Sekel had not been paid his 2019 prize money but would be in contact with organisers to clarify the situation. Asked if Sekel will participate in the education ministry’s potential alternative event, McIntosh said a decision would be made when more details are provided.
“I am almost sure for all the students that it is not about the money for them.
“It’s just the opportunity to show what they have been working hard on for months,” said McIntosh, on a potential alternative.
Asked how he felt about the situation, Sekel said as young child he was looking forward to representing the country’s culture on the platform. With future plans of further pursuing soca music, Sekel said he is now rethinking his decision given his experiences of preparing for the competition to be cancelled. Four-time Junior Soca Monarch Sergio Camejo said soca must be represented in junior competitions given that there are junior calypso, chutney and extempo competitions.
Recalling the importance of the competition to him, Camejo said, “It was a platform where I could have expressed myself and send a message to youths and the whole of TT. I would always sing inspirational music, so the soca medium was important to me.”
Camejo won the competition’s primary division in 2011 and secondary division in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Contacted for comment CPF director Geoffrey Wharton-Lake said while there may be disappointment, cancelling the event was the right decision.
“I think how it’s structured right now, we rush and run into it. To me, someone ends up with a dollar value prize and I don’t think that should be the intention.”
“We would like to take a look a lot and the entire structure of how it’s done and promoted,” said Wharton-Lake.
He said the education ministry decided to look into an alternative event but the CPF’s main concern would be on developing the Junior Soca Monarch brand further to greater nurture the junior performers.
When asked about Sekel not receiving his 2019 prize money, Wharton-Lake said after this year’s International Soca Monarch all outstanding prizes and expenses would be paid.